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Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte During the Turnover of Balangiga Bells

Presidential Communications Operations Office
Presidential News Desk

Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
During the Turnover of the Balangiga Bells

Delivered at Balangiga Auditorium, Balangiga, Eastern Samar, 15 December 2018

Kindly sit down.

I was given a choice whether I would give a talk or not. But considering the emotional significance of this event, I would opt to just say a few words coming from the government of the Republic of the Philippines.

His Excellency Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio of the Philippines; National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the other members of the Cabinet; Eastern Samar Governor Marcelo Picardal; US Deputy Chief of Mission John Law; Balangiga Mayor Randy Graza; Most Reverend Archbishop Romulo Valles, my personal spiritual guidance counselor; the people of the wonderful town of Balangiga, mabuhay kayong lahat. I share your happiness and joy today.

The other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, maupay nga kulop, hiyaong nga katawhan (good evening, good people). I was born here. But on the other side of the islands. I do not know what dialect you have adopted here. I think — waray kalipay (happy waray dialect). Hangtod karon, araa na ang kalipay nato (Today, there is happiness).

Today’s gathering is indeed a time to be truly sentimental as we welcome back our Balangiga Bells. It has been 117 years since these bells were taken away from us. Yet, we never lost hope that someday, these treasures will be returned to where they belong.

We know fully well that several efforts to return the bells have been made by both America and the Philippines. It has been indeed a long and tedious process, to the point that the outcome was disappointing sometimes.

But the long wait is over. The rest of the Filipino nation joins the Diocese of Borongan in celebrating this historic event. Indeed, this victory is the result of the optimism and solidarity and patriotism of those behind the bells’ return, just like when our forefathers fought for freedom against foreign domination more than a century ago.

But let me be very clear on this. There are some who are the loaders and the pedantic in the government. You know, the bells are returned and it was really because of the fervent prayers of the entire Filipino nation.

Nobody but nobody can claim a singular credit for the generous act of the Americans. The bells are returned. The credit goes to the American people and to the Filipino people, period.

On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank all the stakeholders who contributed to ensure the return of the Balangiga Bells to the country.

The homecoming of these artifacts is truly a milestone in the shared and meaningful history of the United States and the Philippines, and heralds a new and more vibrant chapter in our bilateral relations.

More than just a part of the Balangiga Church, these bells are a significant element in our country’s religious and historical narrative. They are an enduring symbol of our history and treasure.

I therefore trust that our kababayans (fellow countrymen) in Balangiga and the rest of the country will ensure the protection of these gems and will continue to preserve and promote our culture and history.

I congratulate the Filipino people for forging a history that we could all forever be proud of. I am sure that our ancestors are celebrating with us here on this remarkable victory and that does not only bring back the glory of the town of Balangiga, but also contributes in the full restoration of our dignity as a Filipino.

Daghang salamat (Thank you very much). Daghang salamat sa America (Many thanks to America). Daghang salamat kaninyong tanan (Many thanks to you all). Daghang salamat sa Filipino (Many thanks to Philippine people). Mabuhay ang Pilipinas !

Source: PCOO-PND (Presidential News Desk)
*Translation of Waray Dialect by US-Philippines Society

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